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The War Against Apostasy: Riddah Wars



  • Soon after the death of Holy Prophet (S.A.W.W), apostasy and disaffection raised head; Christians and Jews began to stretch out their neck; and the faithful were as a flock of sheep without a shepherd, their prophet gone, their number few their foes a multitude.
  • Tribes started renouncing Islam, relapsed into the ways of ignorance and revolted against the Caliph.


Arabia not wholly united under Islam:

  • Whole Arabia had submitted to the political authority of prophet (S.A.W.W), but not to Islam.
  • Acceptance of political supremacy of Madinah.
  • Submission to the socio-political security system of Islam.
  • Readiness to pay Zakat.
  • Accept all the duties and injunctions of Islam as a faith.
  • Hijaz, Taif, and N.W part of peninsula between Makkah and Madinah: Complete submission to Islam.
  • Rest of the peninsula early stages of submission.
  • The causes of this relapse into Jahiliya were to be found in Arabian nomadism, paganism, and prophetism.

Arabian Nomadism: the Bedouin:

  • Bedouins played leading role in apostasy movement.
  • Bedouins are by nature born rebels.
  • Unruly, wild, fickle in obedience and loyalty to any authority except that of its tribal chief and clan head.
  • Parochial in outlook, anarchic and ungovernable in spirit, separatists and rebellious in habits, fickle and disloyal in allegiance, political or religious.
  • They love anarchy, partly because they born in it, but mainly because they live in it.
  • Law and order, firm administration and social unity and integration irksome and distasteful of the Bedouins.
  • Loot and raid, plunder, counter raid, wharf and woof of the Bedouin life. By which he lived and was ready to die.
  • Prophet (S.A.W.W) forbade this way of life and disciplined him to live a peaceful, organized and orderly life in accordance with the laws and injunctions of the new faith. Islam Irksome and distasteful to Bedouins.
  • Recently converted.
  • Islam had not sunk deep into their hearts yet.
  • So, after the death of prophet (S.A.W.W), they relapsed into their tribal customs and creeds and denounced the Islamic faith and authority.

Tribal Particularism:

  • Tribe basic social unit beyond which Arabs saw nothing and liked nothing.
  • Loyal to tribes and tribal interests and customs.
  • They personally submitted to authority of prophet (S.A.W.W) as military lord, but not to Islam.
  • Death of prophet (S.A.W.W) gave them signal to terminate the personal bond and return to earlier fissiparous and parochial tendencies.


  • Strict morality of Islam → irksome to riotous and licentious Bedouin.
  • Fasting, Zakat, praying too hard for them.
  • Meekness, forgiveness, piety, devoutness harsh for Arabs. In short, apostasy movement was the return of the old paganism of the Age of ignorance as against the new faith of Islam.


  • Example and success of Holy Prophet (S.A.W.W) had instigated several pretenders to claim prophethood.
  • Tribes sought to have their own prophet against the “Prophet of the Quraish”, they regarded the Prophet (S.A.W.W). Some false prophets are:-

1. Musaylima the liar:

  • He was from powerful tribe of Banu Hanifa.
  • Central Arabia.
  • Pretended to work miracles and even composed some clumsy verses which the declared to be revelations from the most High.
  • Imitated the practices and ways of the Muslims to earn the nickname of “the little Muslim.”
  • He had his Quran.
  • Instituted prayers and fasting.
  • Favoured monogamy.
  • He had great military power; 40,000 well equipped men.
  • Greatest peril to Islam and Madinah.

2. Aswad al-Ansi:

  • Revolted in the last days of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.W).
  • Killed by Dailmi and his party only a day before the death of Holy Prophet (S.A.W.W).
  1. Tulayha:

  • Chief of Banu Asad in Najd.
  • Wealthy and great warrior.
  • Great danger due to the proximity of his desert abode being close to Madinah.
  1. Sajah:

  • Female Christian and a subject of the Persian Empire.
  • Dwelt in Mesopotamia.

Abu Bakr’s(R.A) policy towards the Apostates:

  • Apostasy spread with the rapidity of a fire.
  • Tribes after tribes renounced Islam and asserted independence from madinah.
  • Muslims teachers and instructors were driven out of the tribes and provinces.
  • It was indeed time for decisive action, if Islam was to be saved.
  • False prophets had to be crushed; rebels vanquished; apostates reclaimed or else exterminated; and the supremacy vindicated of Islam.
  • In short, it was the mission of Abu Bakr (R.A) to redeem the dying Holy Prophet (S.A.W.W) words “Islam was to be the faith of all Arabia”.

Military Expedition against Rebels:

  • Assembled all the Muslim army Dhu’l-Qassa.
  • Divided them into 11 Battalions.

Batallion 1: led by Khalid bin Walid was sent against Tulaha and Malik bin Nuwayra in the Najd desert.

Batallion: 2,3:- led by Ikrama bin Abu Tajl and Shurahbil against Musaylima in Central Arabia.

Batallion 4:- under Muhajr bin Abi Umayya against Yemen and Hadramout.

Batalion 5:- under Hudayfah, was to subdue Oman and Mahra in extreme south-East Arabia.

Batallion 6:-Under Al-A’a’ was to suppress apostasy in Bahrain.

Batallion 7:  against Banu Sulaym and Hawazin.

Batallion 8:-was sent to Tayma.

Batallion 9:-under Amrbin al-As was sent against- BanuQuza’a.

Batallion 10:- Khalid bin Said was sent to keep watch on Syrian border.

Batallion 11:-under Abu Bakr (R.A) kept in reserve in Madinah.

Call to the Rebels:

  • Caliph afforded a last chance to rebels and apostates to repent and submit to Islam. Azan was the indication of repentment, otherwise punished to the bitter end.

War Against Tulayha:

  • Tulayha was most dangerous because he was nearest to Madinah.
  • Tulayha assembled his army at Buzakha, water spring in the desert of Najd.
  • Supported by Uyaynah (Banu Ghatafan chief), & other defeated rebels.
  • Khalid bin Walid sent Adi Bin Hatim Tai, a grandson of the Hatim, to his tribe. Adi persuaded his tribe to submit to caliph in which he succeeded. They jointed Khalid bin walid (R.A.) with 1000 men. Khalid’s army swelled to 3000.
  • Khalid (R.A) marched against Tulayha.
  • Soon got an upper hand after a hot battle.
  • Uyaynah fled from the battlefield with his men.
  • Tulayha also fled but caught and submitted to second caliph Umar, and became Muslim.
  • Uyahah was also caught and pardoned by the caliph Abu Bakr (R.A)

War Against Malik bin Nuwayra; 632 A.D:

  • Malik bin Nuwayra (chief of BanyYerbu), clan of Tamim.
  • Inspired by false prophetess Sajah raised insurgency against Caliph.
  • Sajah entered Banu Tamin with intention of attacking Madinah but before that internecine war broke among the great Tamim clans.
  • Khalid bin Walid (R.A) advanced towards Malik bin Nuwayra but remained passive until the Sajah exhausted and ran towards central Arabia to Musaylima.
  • Khalid bin Walid (R.A) caught Malik bin Nuwayra. There was speculation among Muslims that he had accepted the Islam because some of the Muslims had heard the voice of Azan.
  • Khalid bin Walid (R.A) lingered the problem to nest day.
  • In the night, Malik bin Nuwayra was killed and Khalid bin walid (R.A) married his wife.
  • Abu Qatada and some other Muslims turned against their commander and the case rendered to caliph.
  • Caliph summoned and trialed Khalid bin Walid (R.A) and found him innocent.
  • Umar (R.A) considered him guilty of violating Arab custom prohibiting marriage with the wife of a fallen foe on the field of battle.

 “War Against Musaylima”:

  • Sajah threatened musaylima.
  • Musaylima decided to inveigle her by guile rather than to fight her with arms.
  • He married her. She left him after 3 days. Her army refused to obey her and discredited her for marrying Musaylima.
  • She came like a wind and returned like a whirl wind. Her chapter closed before opening.
  • Abu Bakr (R.A) sent Ikrima and Shurabil against Musaylima.
  • Ikrima defeated due to hurriedness.
  • Caliph appointed Khalid bin Walid (R.A) as commander.
  • Aqraba, outside town of Yemana. Forces/Armies clashed.
  • The enemy fought with great bravery and pushed the Muslims to their camps. It was a critical moment for Islam. Defeat would have been disastrous for Islam.
  • Then Khalid adopted “tribal formation” for its army, which worked efficiently, and soldiers fought hard between their kinsmen. They defeated and made the enemy to fled to a walled garden and shut themselves in.
  • Khalid followed the enemy and the garden turned into a shamble, later called “Garden of Death”.
  • Muslim casualities 2000.
  • Banu Hanifa 10,000.
  • Rest came to folds of Islam when Caliph pardoned them.
  • 300 Huffaz died. It was apprehended that the sacred text might lost. Compilation of Quran started.

Suppression of Heresy In other parts of Arabia:


  • Al- Mundhir, the prince of Bahrain was a Muslim, died.
  • After the death of Prophet (S.A.W.W), people turned against Islam and Caliph.
  • Al-Ala (Deputy to Al-Mundhir) ran to Madina for help.
  • Al-Ala provided with soldiers to fight against apostates in the Bahrain.
  • He defeated them near the coast of the Persian Gulf.
  • Al-Ala then advanced against bani Bakr, dwelling near the Persian borders.
  • Al-Ala defeated the combined forces of Bani Bakr and the Persians, and drove them into the sea.


  • After being defeated at the hands of musaylima, Ikrima was directed by the Caliph to march on Oman to help Andayfah.
  • After the death of Prophet (S.A.W.W) Prince remained loyal to Caliph and faith but few rebels denounced Islam.
  • Hudayfah and Ikrima defeated the rebels with the help of loyal prince in a battle near Dada a market place for sought Asian goods.
  • A large booty recovered.
  • Leaving Hudayfah in charge of Oman, Ikrima turned to the South-west and captured Mahra and then marched against Hadramaut.


  • Thought the imposter Aswad al-Ansi was dead, his followers were yet unsuppressed.
  • Muhajr bin Abi Umayya was sent to Yemen by Caliph.
  • Many loyal tribes joined him.
  • Muhajir’s task was facilitated by the mutual quarrels among the rebel leaders, Qays and Amr bin Ma’di Kerib.
  • Amr defeated and captured Qays.
  • He wanted peace with Muslims.
  • They were caught and dispatched to Madinah.


  • Last province to submit Islam.
  • Ruled by prince of the tribe of Kindah, Al-Ashath bin Qays, who adopted Islam in Prophet’s (S.A.W.W)life but renounced it after his death.
  • Ikrima marched on it from the East and Muhajr from the West.
  • He was forced to flee into a fortress and then surrendered to caliph who pardoned him. He embraced Islam.
  • With the victory in Hadramaut the war of apostasy came to an end.

Consequences of the war of Riddah:

  • Greatest achievement of Abu Bakr.
  • Apostasy suppressed within one year of Prophet (S.A.W.W)’s death.

Consequences for Islam:

  • Defeat would have been disastrous for Islam.
  • The last behest of the Prophet (S.A.W.W) that Islam alone was to be the religion of Arabia was fulfilled.

Consequences for Arabia:

  • The suppression of apostasy saved Arabia from the re-emergence of the tribal anarchy and ignorance of the Jahiliya.
  • Arab tribes were again welded into a single nation with one religion and with one centralized state, headed by the caliph at Madinah.

For world History:

  • The victory of Islam in Arabia gave a powerful impetus to its spread in neighboring countries around peninsula.
  • Islam spread like a fire all around the Arabia.


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